Dell Ventures has announced a $300 million “Strategic Innovation” venture fund to invest in startups that have a focus on areas, such as storage, next-generation data-center technology and mobile. The deal follows the company’s news today of a global sales relationship with Dropbox. The two pieces of news together show Dell’s deepening focus on storage as a key part of its enterprise strategy.
The fund is Dell’s second in the past year. Last year, the company invested $60 million in its Fluid Data Storage fund, also intended to invest in promising storage startups. The fund was created to complement Dell’s core technology with a bent on data center infrastructure. The company keeps most of its investments private. Ones it does discuss include Mirantis, a provider of OpenStack cloud and open source application infrastructure, as well as Skyera, a solid-state storage company.
With its funds, Dell makes investments with other venture capitalists and strategic investors. It acts as a board advisor and resource for the companies. Those resources might be technical, business counsel or market strategy assistance.
The news follows the announcement this morning that Dell will offer Dropbox for Business to its customers. Dropbox for Business is the company’s enterprise offering that it has focused on with considerable attention over the past several months. Last month it announced a deal with Salesforce. Dropbox will also be coming pre-installed on a selection of Dell devices. The company is also integrating Dropbox for Business into Dell Data Protection solutions.
Dell killed its relationship with EMC in 2011 and has been rebuilding its storage business ever since. Focusing on storage is part of its shift from a PC maker to a company that has a deeper focs on enterprise services. The company has made several acquisitions in the past two years, including Wyse Technology.
Using acquisitions to develop intellectual property is one approach large IT companies take. Building a venture fund to invest in innovative startups also has deep precedent in the enterprise as a way for companies to build their capabilities.
For example, in October SAP Ventures announced a new venture fund (SAP Ventures II) valued at $650 million, bringing its total investment arm to about $1 billion.
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